Situation report on ar Raqqa Syria

The Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) campaign to retake areas of ar Raqqa governorate currently under ISIS control has been ongoing since November 2016. The operation is supported by US-led airstrikes.

As of end-May, over 205,000 had been displaced. Internally displaced persons (IDPs) residing in organized camps and makeshift settlements have irregular access to food, drinking water, and sanitation facilities, as well as health services. Anecdotal evidence suggests similar needs among those still in ISIS-held ar Raqqa city.

In the coming months the additional caseload of people that will require humanitarian assistance in ar Raqqa and surrounding governorates is projected to reach 440,000, including 340,000 people newly displaced and 100,000 people estimated in Raqqa city currently. The increasing number of people in need will no doubt put a strain on current capacities.

Moreover, widespread fighting and airstrikes are likely to damage or destroy vital civilian infrastructure, such as health centers, water towers and pumping stations, and power stations, thereby making needs more acute.

[Relief Web]

Humanitarian leaders to gather at Aid & Development Asia Summit

More than 250 high-profile representatives from NGOs, businesses, government and UN organizations are set to convene at the Aid & Development Asia Summit in Myanmar June 14-15 to exchange innovative and sustainable solutions for improving aid delivery and development strategy in Southeast Asia.

Southeast Asia is particularly vulnerable to severe climate change related disasters. Out of 65.3 million displaced people around the world, 14% are being hosted in Asia and the Pacific. Despite significant progress made over the last decade, hunger, malnutrition, disease and poverty are still among the notable challenges particularly facing the region.

Over 130 million people in Southeast Asia do not have access to basic health services. Communicable diseases, such as malaria, HIV/AIDS and Tuberculosis (TB), remain a major public health challenge. The region has the lowest density of health professionals with a deficit of 6.9 million health workers. As a result, Southeast Asia has one of the highest rates of child mortality in the world with 1 in 19 children dying before their fifth birthday.

[ReliefWeb]

Hackathon to find solutions for humanitarian problems

“Tech for Humanity”, to be held in Tallinn, Estonia June 9-11, will be devoted to finding innovative solutions to aid humanitarian catastrophes. Organised by the Tallinn Science Park Tehnopol and Garage48 the Tech for Humanity hackathon will focus on three areas: finding new implementations of technology to aid the refugee crisis; natural disasters; and developing countries.

100 contributors are expected to be involved. In the first stage, the teams will develop a prototype of the product or service that they can then introduce to the sub-committees of the UN such as the Global Humanitarian Lab and the International Committee of the Red Cross. From there on, the product development can continue in collaboration with the Global Humanitarian Lab or the Red Cross and the best solutions will be put to work.

“Better solutions in logistics, information gathering and distribution are essential to ensure that help would quickly reach the ones who need it the most. Sustainable solutions in education and psychological help are needful to ensure the normal quality of life for displaced people. These are just a few examples of areas in need of innovation – we await everyone who wants to help to solve these problems in collaboration with UN experts,” the organizers said.

Since 2010, the Tallinn-based Garage48 has been organizing hackathons where participants create prototypes to test their business ideas in 48 hours. At a hackathon, everyone can pitch their idea on Friday; the most popular ones attract teams that will start executing them; and on Sunday evening, the teams present their prototypes. So far, over 60 Garage48 events have taken place in 17 countries and four continents.

[Estonian World]

India’s humanitarian assistance and disaster relief

The Indian Navy is currently assisting the Bangladeshi and Sri Lankan governments in dealing with a devastating cyclone and flood, respectively.

In previous years, India has rendered similar assistance, most notably in in April 2015, when Nepal was hit by a massive earthquake.

Also in 2015, the Indian Air Force was deployed in Yemen. During that relief effort, India rescued nationals from 41 countries apart from bringing home a large number of Indian citizens. Last July, India was quick to get its citizens out of South Sudan as well.

The Indian mainland is not very far from these disaster zones. Hence, India could deploy its military assets more effectively than in other parts of the world. The Indian military is the strongest force in the region; its geographic advantage is coupled with material capabilities like naval warships and long range aircraft.

[The Diplomat]

Is international aid to Haiti a failure?

Excerpts of a EURACTIV France interview with Joel Boutroue, formerly the deputy special representative of the secretary general of the United Nations for the UN Stabilization Mission in Haiti:

Haiti is one of many poor countries where international aid has failed to fulfil its objectives. Despite billions of dollars being pumped in, little has changed since the disastrous earthquake of 2010. Beyond poor governance in Haiti, which is the central problem, agriculture is still a big problem. Haiti is an agrarian country but no investment has been made in this sector, there has been no implementation of sustainable practices.

The second big issue is education. It has deteriorated at a terrifying pace these last few decades. Until the 1960s, the Haitians were exporters of knowledge but today the level is catastrophic.

And finally, the third issue is water and sanitation. Haiti is an open sewer in need of treatment. This challenge comes upstream of any action on health, because the population in poisoning itself. There is not one sewer, not one sanitation station in the whole country. This is an enormous problem and will only grow with demographic expansion: Haiti’s population will grow from 11 million to 18 million in 40 years.

Haiti is often described as the NGO republic, which is not entirely false. The NGOs financed by international donors pay very little heed to the Haitian state. But in so doing, the state becomes marginalized and weakened in its interactions with the population. And this creates other problems. Aid in Haiti is not a partnership, it is not a relationship of equals.

Donors are often caught between a rock and a hard place. One the one hand there is the need to demonstrate tangible results to their own citizens and show that their money has served a purpose. On the other hand, the beneficiary country only has a certain capacity for absorption. And many donors, either out of cynicism or laziness, pursue short term interests.

Turkey Humanitarian Fund achievements

In terms of allocations, in 2016 the Turkey Humanitarian Fund (THF) became the largest of all OCHA Humanitarian Funds globally, disbursing US$93.5 million to 144 projects, targeting 7.3 million beneficiaries.

37 per cent of this money went to directly funding the projects of Syrian National NGOs.

Of the 7.3 million beneficiaries, 55 per cent (or over 4 million) have been women and girls reflecting the HFs support to partners on the use of the Gender Marker.

Of course none of this would be possible without the generosity of the donor community who have provided over $67 million to the THF in 2016. This represents an increase of nearly 40 per cent or ($18 million) from 2015, in addition the THF’s donor base grew from 8 to 12 donors an increase of 50 per cent.

[UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs]